Chelsey’s upbeat despite TV show disappointment

A CAMDEN fashion designer has narrowly missed out on winning a televised talent contest, but is still looking on the plus side for the future

Ed Thomas

A CAMDEN fashion designer has narrowly missed out on winning a televised talent contest, but is still looking on the plus side for the future.

For the past two months, Chelsey Oliver has graced reality TV show Project Catwalk, which pits aspiring designers against each other.

Last night was the televised final when the three remaining contestants designed and created a collection for London Fashion Week.

Adelaide Road girl Chelsey, 21, was pipped into second place and missed out on the £25,000 cash prize as well as exclusive fashion deals. But she is determined to break into the top tiers of the industry, while also attacking the "size zero" obsession.

"I really want to change the way people think about models and shopping for clothes," said Chelsey, who is half Canadian and works as a plus-size model as well as a designer.

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"I never like shopping at plus-size stores because they are perceived as 'big girl' stores. But women who are a size 14 aren't big."

She added: "I've worked with models who are size 14 or 16 who are also 6ft tall and they look just as amazing as the really thin girls you see on the catwalks.

"I think shops need to be selling clothes where the sample size may a 14 rather than a size eight or 10. That's just what a lot of women can relate to."

Chelsey dropped out of her studies at the London College of Fashion to film Project Catwalk on Sky One. Each week on the show one contestant is booted off by a judging panel which has included designer Ben de Lisi, Grazia editor Paula Reed, lifestyle expert Nick Ede, plus weekly guests such as Nancy Dell'Olio and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Despite her final collection failing to inspire the show's judges, Chelsey still has her sights on being a major contributor to London Fashion Week in the future.

"We had just a few months to design our final collections, whereas usually you would have a year to

prepare, so the pressure was on,"

she said.

"On top of that, I was having to work for my modelling agency and take jobs on the side just to pay my rent. I really want to go back to college and finish my studies but it's just not financially viable any more, as foreign students have to pay so much in fees.

"But I know people haven't seen all that Chelsey has to offer yet. I've got a lot more to give and my goal is to be in London Fashion Week with an entire collection for size 14 to

16 girls."

Performing for the cameras seemed to pose no problem for the young designer, and she is now gearing up to be part of BBC2 show Mary Queen Of Shops.

The new programme, starting this spring, aims to show viewers how to get the most out of shops and shopping, and Chelsey hopes she can have a positive impact. "All in all, things are going really well for me, despite missing out on the Project Catwalk prize," she added.

Nick Ede, one of the judges on the Sky show, said he was confident Chelsey would succeed despite missing out in Project Catwalk.

"I think that Chelsey has such a fantastic future ahead of her - youth is on her side," he said.

"And she proved to be open to opinion, to developing herself and to working very hard.

"She is a truly dedicated young woman and going on this journey with her I certainly feel that we have not heard the last of Chelsey Oliver."